Mar 30, 2012; Atlanta, GA, USA; New York Knicks head coach Mike Woodson coaches shooting guard J.R. Smith (8) during the first half against the Atlanta Hawks at Philips Arena. Mandatory Credit: Paul Abell-US PRESSWIRE
That was pretty frustrating. Tonight in Atlanta, the Knicks fell victim to their usual Friday night curse and finally looked like the injury-depleted team that they are. Without Amar'e Stoudemire, Jeremy Lin, and Jared Jeffries, the Knicks found very few useful offensive options and lacked verve on defense.
As fracon said in the game thread, only Carmelo Anthony, who posted 36 points on 24 shots and did a respectable job against Josh Smith, and Iman Shumpert, who had his second terrific offensive game in a row and gave everything he could on defense, showed up to carry the Knicks on both ends of the floor. Tyson Chandler (who apparently has some groin pain of his own) had his moments defensively, but was uncharacteristically spacy and mistake-prone and hardly got involved on offense. Baron Davis looked badly hurt and just couldn't finish plays while Landry Fields was quiet on offense and, try as he might, unable to do anything about Joe Johnson on the other end. The bench was pretty much silent, save for J.R. Smith, who was deafeningly awful on both ends of the floor.
Even on an off night, the Melo and an especially rowdy Shumpert were able to make enough plays to keep the Knicks within arm's reach, and New York cut Atlanta's lead to as little as two points in the second half. All throughout the night, though, the Knicks got torched by Atlanta guards. For the most part, it was whoever Shump wasn't guarding-- Fields kept his hands up, but let Johnson pull from his favorite spots while Smith just spectated as Willie Green dominated the fourth quarter. Willie Green! When the Knicks brought help, it was a bit too sluggish and not always timely (Chandler did what he could, but just didn't have that all-court presence we've somewhat unfairly come to expect from him), and the Hawks punished them with big offensive rebounds and easy finishes.
Offensively, the Knicks shot poorly and turned the ball over a lot. That happens, but if it's going to happen, the free throws have to fall. New York missed 11 free throws on a night when the Knicks lost by 10. Poop.
So, it was a pretty unpleasant evening of basketball. Not nearly as bad as the Toronto game, though, and the Knicks did fall a few crucial plays short of getting back into it. Last week, New York recovered from their Friday night letdown and destroyed the Pistons on Saturday. Tomorrow night, they've got a big game against the Cavaliers. Philadelphia lost tonight but Milwaukee won and gained a full game on the Knicks, so it'd be pretty neat if New York could find a way to recover once more. With all these guys missing and more guys hurting, it's going to require a much deeper effort than the Knicks showed in this one.
That's it for now, though I'm saving my notes in case I feel like discussing this more in the morning. Have a lovely night, everybody. Except for you, Robert Randolph. You stay in your room and think about what you've done.